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Lee Monument Circle

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Intersection of Monument and Allen aves.
  • Lee Monument in July 2020
  • R. E. Lee Monument
  • Jeffress House

The Robert E. Lee Monument (1886–1890, Jean Antonin Mercie, sculptor; Paul Pujot, designer of the base) was unveiled in 1890 at a Confederate reunion, eleven years before any buildings had been erected on Monument Avenue. A monument was discussed days after Lee's death in 1870 but the sculpture was not commissioned until 1887, because of years of infighting among competing committees. The sculpture was cast in France after a design by Mercie, one of the late nineteenth century's most famous sculptors. Shipped in pieces, the statue was pulled to the site by enthusiastic white Richmonders. One hundred and thirty years later, enthusiastic Richmonders, both white and Black, called for its removal. The statue, which is located on state property, was not removed along with the other Confederate monuments in July 2020, but is slated for removal at a later date.

The Lee Monument and Monument Avenue's intersection with Allen Avenue were the centerpieces of the original plan, which extended only two more blocks westward. The financial panic of 1893 hit while the street was being graded, and the consequent business downturn delayed residential construction almost a decade. One of Bottomley's most celebrated Monument Avenue house designs, the Colonial Revival Jeffress House (1929–1930; 1800 Monument Avenue), faced the Lee Monument from a northwest quadrant lot. The classical ornament, luxurious detail, and graceful handling of a potentially awkward lot all explain Bottomley's local popularity. He was also known for refined floor plans that allowed modern living and entertaining behind strict, symmetrical facades.

Adjacent to the Lee pedestal are the Shenandoah Apartments (1906, Carl Ruehrmund; 501 North Allen Avenue), built to provide luxury housing in the neighborhood. At the northwest intersection of West Grace Street and Allen Avenue stands the former home of the Jefferson Club (1909, Marion J. Dimmock. 1800 West Grace Street), a prestigious men's club.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Richard Guy Wilson et al.
Updated By: 
Richard Guy Wilson (2020)
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Data

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Citation

Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Lee Monument Circle", [Richmond, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/VA-01-RI297.

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 256-256.

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